Kacper Przybylko scored a goal in his first MLS start to secure a point for a shorthanded Philadelphia Union team against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday.
Despite missing regulars Andre Blake, Kia Wagner, Marco Fabián, Ilsinho and Cory Burke, the Union left with another point to their name. The two goals of the match were scored by Doniel Henry in the 41st minute off a corner kick and Przybylko in the 66th minute.
The players set to fill the holes left by Blake, Wagner, and Fabián all had strong performances. Matt Freese, Przybylko and Monteiro each came to play with contributions that led to the hard-earned point.
Monteiro was able to pressure Ali Adnan into a poor back pass in the direction of Przbylko, who was able to run it down and beat a diving Maxime Crépeau in stride with a clean finish inside the left post.
“All things considered, the amount of guys that we’re missing, the travel, playing against a good Vancouver team, I thought that the effort was very good,” head coach Jim Curtin said after the match.
Freese, the 20-year-old homegrown keeper, earned his first career start after coming in for Blake against the Montreal Impact last week when Blake left the game with a groin injury. He finished with four saves on the day.
Curtin’s bench was limited in attacking options with Fafa Picault his only available forward and Warren Creavalle his other sub off the bench in the second half. He had both Fabinho and Matt Real as left back options on the bench after electing to move Ray Gaddis over to left back and give Olivier Mbaizo his first start of the season at right back.
“We got a lot of answers from a lot of players today that stepped up in a big way,” Curtin said. “This group has been shorthanded now week in and week out and different guys have responded with big performances. I can’t say enough how proud I am of the group.”
Both teams had multiple opportunities to win the game with close calls near the net. Vancouver had one shot bounce off the post, and another blocked by Ray Gaddis on the goal line while Freese was out of net. The Union also had a corner blocked on the goal line, Przybylko had a bid for a brace off a low cross from Mbaizo denied by Crépeau and Picault missed a shot that went just wide of the crossbar that would’ve given the Union a late victory.
“If you get greedy maybe we could have stole a second goal at the end but I think a draw is a fair result,” Curtin said.
After the draw, the Union sit in second place in the East with 14 points, behind only DC United. They are nine points ahead of their next opponent Cincinnati FC, which they’ll face Wednesday at Talen Energy Stadium to start a busy May stretch that includes six games, all but one of those at home.